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and our Practice. Nor does it in
wife cease to be of Weight in those Cases, because Persons, either given to dispute, or who require things to be stated with greater Exactness than our Faculties appear to admit of in practical Matters, may find other Cases in which ’tis not easy to say, whether it be, or
of any Weight ; or Instances of seeming Analogies, which are really of none. It is enough to the present Purpose to observe, that this general Way of arguing is evidently natural, just and conclusive. For there is no Man can make a Question but that the Sun will rise to morrow; and be seen, where it is seen at all, in the Figure of a Circle, and not in that of a Square,
Hence, namely from analogical Reasoning, Origend has with fingular Sagacity observed, that he who believes the Scripture to have proceeded from Him who is the Author of Nature, may well expect to find the same fort of Difficulties in it, as are found in the Constitution of Nature. And in a like way of Reflexion it may be added, that he who denies the Scripture to have been from God upon Account of these difficulties, may, for the very
Xρή μέν τοι γε τον άπαξ παραδεξάμενον τε κτίσανloς τον κόσ. .
ειναι ταύτας τας γραφάς πεπείο, ότι όσα περί της κτίσεως απαντα τοις ζητάει τον περί αυτής λόγον, ταύτα και περί των γραφών. Philocal. p. 23. Ed. Cant.
same Reason, deny the World to have been formed by Him. On the other hand, if there be an Analogy or Likeness between that System of Things and Dispensation of Providence, which Revelation informs us of, and that System of Things and Dispensation of Providence, which Experience together with Reason informs us of, i.e. the known Course of Nature; this is a Presumption, that they have both the fame Author and Cause ; at least so far as to answer Objections against the former's being from God, drawn from any thing which is analogical or similar to what is in the latter, which is acknowledged to be from Him: for an Author of Nature is here supposed.
Forming our Notions of the Constitution and Government of the World upon Reasoning, without Foundation for the Principles which we aflume, whether from the Attributes of God or any thing else; is building a World upon Hypothesis, like Des Cartes. Forming our Notions upon Reasoning from Principles which are certain, but applied to Cases to which we have no Ground to apply them, (like those who explain the Structure of the human Body, and the Nature of Diseases and Medicines from mere Mathematicks without sufficient Data;) is an Error.much a-kin to the former: since what is assumed in order to make the Reason
ing applicable, is Hypothesis. But it must be allowed just, to join abstract Reasonings with the Observation of Facts, and argue from such Facts as are known, to others that are like them; from that part of the Divine Government over intelligent Creatures which comes under our View, to that larger and more general Government over them, which is beyond it; and from what is present, to collect, what is likely, credible, or not incredible, will be hereafter,
This Method then of concluding and determining being practical, and what, if we will act at all, we cannot but act upon in the common Pursuits of Life; being evidently conclusive, in various Degrees, proportionable to the Degree and Exactness of the whole Analogy or Likeness; and having so great Authority for its Introduction into the Subject of Religion, even revealed Religion'; my Design iş to apply it to that Subject in general, both natural and revealed : taking for proved, that there is an intelligent Author of Nature, and natural Governor of the World. For as there is no Presumption against This prior to the Proof of it : so it has been often proved with accumulated Evidence; from this Argument of Analogy and final Causes; from abstract Reasonings; from the most antient: Tradition and Testimony; and from the general
Confent of Mankind. Nor does it
fo far as I can find, to be denied, by. the GeneTality of those who profess themselves diffatiffied with the Evidence of Religion.
As there are Some, who, instead of thus attending to what is in fact the Constitution of Nature, form their Notions of God's Government upon Hypothesis: so there are Others, who indulge themselves in vain and idle Speculations, how the World might possibly have been framed otherwise than it is; and
upon Supposition that Things might, in imagining that they should, have been disposed and carried on after a better Model, than what appears
in the present Dispofition and Conduct of them. Suppose now a Person of such a Turn of Mind, to go on with his Reveries, till he had at length fixt upon some particular Plan of Nature, as appearing to him the best.-One shall scarce be thought guilty of Detraction against human Understanding, if one should fay, even beforehand, that the Plan which this speculative Person would fix upon, though he were the wisest of the Sons of Men, probably would not be the very best, even according to his own Notions of best; whether he thought That to be so, which afforded Occafions and Motives for the Exercise of the greatest Virtue, or which was productive of the greatest Happiness, or that These two were necessarily connected, and run up into one and the same Plan. However, it may not be amiss once for all to see, what would be the Amount of these Emendations and imaginary Improvements upon the System of Nature, or how far they would mislead us. And it seems there could be no stopping, till we came to some such Conclusions as these : That all Creatures should at first be made as perfect and as happy, as they were capable of ever being: That Nothing, to be sure, of Hazard or Danger should be put upon them to do; some indolent Persons would perhaps think Nothing at all: Or certainly, that effectual Care should be taken, that they should, whether necessarily or not, yet eventually and in fact, always do what was Right and most conducive to Happiness, which would be thought easy for infinite Power to effect; either by not giving them any Principles which would endanger their going wrong; or by laying the right Motive of Action in every Instance before their Minds continually in so strong a Manner, as would never fail of inducing them to act conformably to it: And that the whole Method of Government by Punishments should be rejected, as absurd ; as an awkward round-about Method of carrying things on; nay as contrary to a principal Purpose, for which it would be supposed Creatures were made, namely Happiness.